[Editor's Note: Oscar Prospects is your weekly analysis of an awards contender and how it's likely to fare come Oscar nomination morning. The column is comprehensive, so beware of spoilers.]
For those who thought 2012 would be the year in which the Academy made amends to Christopher Nolan, that auteur of urban spectacle whom many believe has twice been robbed of a directing nod, a certain mad gunman likely dashed those already slim hopes. Before James Eagan Holmes opened fire in a Colorado screening of The Dark Knight Rises, ultimately leaving 12 viewers dead, there might have been a chance for Nolan's trilogy capper to at least crack the Best Picture shortlist, if not shuffle him into the running for Best Director. It wouldn't have been the first time Oscar voters rallied around a beloved hopeful, anointing his latest work as a way to honor all of his recent output (which, it should be noted, has made gajillions of dollars for the industry). But many will probably prefer to make a statement with abstention, celebrating films that don't stoke the fire of the whole too-much-violence-in-cinema argument. It's absurd that a freak incident, albeit tragic, is causing such drastic Hollywood ripple effects (like the re-cuttingof the upcoming Gangster Squad), and it's a bit of a shame that, on top of all else, such a nasty PR mess had to befall the folks at Warner Bros. But all that says nothing of the movie's disappointing stance as the weakest of Nolan's Batman epics. Even if there'd been no bloodshed beyond what appears on screen, The Dark Knight Rises likely wouldn't have reached its expectations as a reparative honoree, making up for the 2008 Best Pic snub that allegedly revived the 10-wide field.